A thoughtful "Letter to the Editor" (here & then scroll down a bit) about Seattle planning:
Bungalows are SUVs
Knute Berger's engaging in a bit of "golden age" revisionism with his idolization of the Seattle bungalow [Mossback, "The 'Just Right' People" May 10]. Even at the time they were being built by the thousands, bungalows were not considered a low-cost housing option. To the contrary, contemporaries often referred to bungalows as "the least house for the most money." People bought them primarily because they found them charming, not because they were a bargain. Many still do.
Would Seattle be worse off without its ocean of bungalows? There are two ways to look at it. On the one hand, the Seattle bungalow adds a lot to the visual character of the city and replacing them with anonymous boxes would be a terrible blow to the urban fabric. They're still charming, accentuated now by the patina of age and the glow of nostalgia.
On the other hand, the huge quantity of in-city single-family housing, of which bungalows are a major part, represents a significant political problem for the evolution of our city. Few other cities in the world have as high a proportion of single-family residences as close to the downtown area as Seattle. Local politics and land-use planning are dominated by the concerns of those single-family homeowners, often to the detriment of their own neighborhoods and the city as a whole (including the development of practical mass transit, economic vitality, affordable housing solutions, and the increasing density necessary to support those things sustainably). Berger's and much of the city's idealized vision of the inefficient, costly-for-its-size, yet pleasant and picturesque little bungalow as the essential expression of Seattle dwelling is a core part of that problem.
The bungalow is not the "spotted owl" of Seattle housing. It's the gas-hog SUV of Seattle housing, driving our policies and politics into absurd realms.